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This study explored associations between COVID-19 and dream recall frequency, and related social, health, and mental health factors.

Many people reported having odd dreams during the pandemic. Given that dreams are associated with mental health, understanding these changes could provide crucial information about wellbeing during the pandemic.

This study involving Professor Colin Espie from our Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute explored associations between COVID-19 and dream recall frequency (DRF), and related social, health, and mental health factors.

The researchers carried out a cross-sectional web survey of nearly 20,000 people in 14 countries from May to July 2020. They collected data on COVID-19, mental health, sleep and dream recall frequency during the pandemic. 

The study showed that dream recall frequency was higher during the pandemic than before it, across four continents. High dream recall frequency was associated with female gender, nightmares sleep talking, sleep maintenance problems, and symptoms of REM sleep behaviour disorder. It was negatively associated with depression and anxiety. This suggests that COVID-19 is reflected in our dreams as an expression of the emotional intensity of the pandemic.

Read the full paper in Nature and Science of Sleep